Power Hungry
Season 1, Episode 5
Power Hungry
Air date October 7, 2008
Written by Jason Cahill
Julia Cho
Directed by Christopher Misiano
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Cast | Transcript

"Power Hungry" is the fifth episode of the first season of Fringe.


When a rather simple man has the ability to harness electricity, dangerous and deadly occurrences follow. The Team tracks the man through his personal electromagnetic signature. Dunham sees John Scott on three occasions; on the last, he leads her to a repository of Pattern files. Dr Bishop reveals that he knows that Dunham has seen Scott.


A sad-looking man, Joseph Meegar, is awakened by his shrewish mother. He is late for work because his clock-radio is on the fritz. He scribbles some numbers in a notebook, then takes his temperature. When his mother, Flora Meegar, berates him for his irresponsibility, she suddenly grabs her heart -- her pacemaker is malfunctioning.

Joseph arrives at work, BiCoastal Parcel Service, and opens his locker to reveal an advertisement torn from a magazine and pasted in the locker door reading "Unlock Your Hidden Potential." As Joseph gazes fondly at the picture of a girl captured on his cell phone camera, his supervisor ridicules him. When Joseph's package scanner starts smoking, he is required to record deliveries by hand.

Joseph makes a delivery to an office in downtown Worcester. The receptionist is Bethany, the woman whose image was on Joseph's cell phone. Joseph makes awkward small talk until they are interrupted by Bethany's suave and confident coworker. They're going out for drinks later. While Joseph absorbs that blow, Bethany complains as her computer crashes.

Joseph enters the building elevator (just as September is briefly seen putting on his hat and moving out of view), followed by Bethany on her way to locate an information technologist. Joseph drops his phone, and she sees her picture on it. She is troubled and Joseph tries to explain himself -- but then the elevator car takes a sudden jolt. A momentary pause... and then the elevator plummets downward, accelerating, slamming into the ground floor in a spectacular crash. Bloody and broken bodies cover the floor. But Joseph, seemingly unharmed, gets up and sees the dead Bethany. Joseph exits through the parking lot, and all the cars' ignitions turn over, sirens blaring as he runs from the building in terror.

Olivia Dunham and Charlie Francis are walking down the street, and Olivia is clearly not herself. Finally, Olivia confesses that she saw John Scott -- her dead partner and former lover -- in her kitchen the previous night. She imagined it, of course, but it bothers her. Charlie says it's okay; this kind of reaction to trauma is to be expected.

In the lab, Phillip Broyles tells the team about a mysterious power surge in downtown Worcester that caused an elevator to literally drive itself into the ground. A similar event caused a Mag-Lev train in Tokyo to plough through the wall of a train station. These events may be harbingers of a new weapon technology.

At the elevator crash site, a technician explains that the elevator's motor drove the car right through the safety brakes -- almost as though another generator had come online. Walter, inspecting the bodies, says the passengers were electrocuted. They were all dead by the time they hit the ground. Walter takes Olivia's necklace and lets it float in the center of the elevator car, thus demonstrating that the whole area is still charged with magnetic energy.

Back in the lab, Walter discusses a Cold-War era project to make people traceable by homing pigeons. Humans are actually highly complex electrical systems, and each person possesses a unique electromagnetic signature that, in a theory, a pigeon could follow. But the human electromagnetic field was too weak to detect, so they tried to amplify it. The unfortunate result was damage to nearby electrical systems. As Walter explains this, a human heart from one of the elevator victims lying on the table unexpectedly beats. Someone has amplified a person's electromagnetic field, Walter says, and that's what is powering this heart. A person was the source of the accident.

Meanwhile, Joseph returns to BiCoastal Parcel, where his boss Ron Boynton rebukes him and then fires him. Joseph pleads for another chance but is interrupted when the boss's arm gets trapped and mangled in a package-sorting machine.

Olivia is working late when Broyles comes in. Upon hearing Walter's theory that an altered person may be controlling electrical devices, Broyles tells Olivia about a cluster of off-the-grid medical clinics that collect clients using bogus claims on TV -- weight loss plans and so forth -- and then experiment on the subjects. Broyles says a man named Jacob Fischer is behind a number of these clinics, and he's wanted for illegal human alteration. This suggests that if someone is controlling electricity, maybe someone else made them that way.

Later. Olivia's work is interrupted by the lights going out. Olivia goes into the hallway with a flashlight. The elevator rings, and to Olivia's shock, John Scott appears. He says he's here to help her. She's on the right track looking for a person, but Fischer is after him, too. She has to reach the guy before Fischer does. Reacting to Olivia's accusations of betrayal, John says that one day he'll prove he really loved her, always. But until then, she'll just have to wait. Then the elevator doors close. Olivia runs down to lower level to catch the elevator opening. But when the doors open, John is gone. And at the rear of the elevator car, Olivia sees the weight capacity sign: "Maximum capacity: 2000 pounds."

Apartment 141

The Bishop's Hotel Room

Olivia goes to Peter and Walter's hotel room, number 141. She reveals her discovery that the weight sensor in the elevator showed a total weight, before the crash, of 165 pounds more than the total weight of the victims. Someone must have survived the crash. There is no immediate explanation for that person not getting electrocuted and crushed like everyone else. Walter posits that the survivor must have been the source of the electromagnetic energy, and a form of electrodynamic levitation allowed him to escape the brunt of the impact. The senselessness of wrecking an elevator on which you are a passenger leads to the conclusion that the effect may have been unintentional. This person may not be in control of his powers, which means the team should be looking for small electrical anomalies.

At the FBI, Charlie documents a variety of electrical anomalies in downtown Boston, from malfunctioning automatic gates to closed-circuit television cameras.

Joseph arrives at home and tells his mother he thinks he made a mistake. He read an advertisement in a magazine promising to unlock his hidden potential. He went to an office, where they said they could realign the electrical impulses of the brain to mimic those of a more confident person. His mother denounces him for a fool, and as Joseph becomes increasingly upset, his mother's pacemaker fails and she dies. A shocked Joseph packs his bags to leave -- but on his way out he is intercepted by Fischer and an accomplice, who shoots Meegar with a tranquilizer.

Charlie gets a report on a man who lost a hand in a conveyor malfunction at BiCoastal Parcel. He links this to the building's visitor log, where Joseph Meegar had signed in to make a delivery for BiCoastal Parcel. Olivia goes to Joseph's apartment and finds the dead Flora Meegar.

Back in the lab, Walter finds the Walkman that Joseph left behind in the elevator. He says the cassette tape inside was magnetized by Joseph's unique electromagnetic signature. Walter isolates the signature and says they can use it to find Joseph, relying on the homing capacity of pigeons.

In an undisclosed location, Joseph is strapped to a surgical bed with electrodes implanted in his temples, pleading with his captors to be released.

Back in the lab, the team has brought in cages full of homing pigeons. Walter places them in a cylinder situated between Tesla coils. He activates the coils, surrounding the birds with electrical current to reorient their magnetic sense to seek out Joseph's unique signature.

Scott files

Scott Files

Olivia is in the hallway again, getting a soft drink, when John reappears. He kisses her and, when she accuses him of trying to kill her, says, "I wasn't the one." Peter arrives and is unable to see John. it is unclear whether he was really there.

In Harvard Yard, the team prepares to release the birds. With a wild thrumming and fluttering, the pigeons take flight. Astrid and Walter track the birds using GPS transponders strapped their feet, while Peter and Olivia follow them by car.

At the secret clinic, Fischer performs a painful procedure on Joseph. "You don't realize what you are," Fischer tells him. "Look what science has made you: special."

Peter Stops Joseph

Peter stops Joseph

The birds sense Joseph and begin circling over a building. The FBI arrives, and Olivia and Charlie enter with guns drawn. Olivia tells Peter to stay outside. Inside, Joseph's abductors put him in the back seat of a car and prepare to escape. Joseph uses his power to accelerate the car forward, smashing a thug against a fence. Meanwhile, Olivia confronts Fischer. Charlie handcuffs him while Olivia goes after Joseph. In a mad chase through a factory yard, Joseph powers up heavy machinery and blows out power lines to stop her. But he doesn't anticipate Peter stepping out from behind a bus and knocking him out with a crowbar.

A heavily sedated Joseph is rolled out on a gurney, headed for the hospital. He tells Olivia that he just wants to go home, that he never wanted to hurt anyone. Olivia regretfully says they can't let him go home. He has to be examined.

Back at the lab, Walter shocks Olivia by asking if she's been seeing John. He's not surprised to hear that she has. There is a reason, he says, and explains that these are not mere hallucinations. When Olivia and John's minds were linked ("Pilot"), part of John's consciousness and memories crossed over into her mind. Olivia says that John appears in the flesh and talks to her, and Walter says that's because he doesn't belong there. There is only room for one consciousness in Olivia's brain, so her mind is expelling John's. Will he go away? Walter says he doesn't know, and pointedly asks: would she want him to?

The Diamond Ring

Olivia is driving her car somewhere in Boston when she sees John walking along the sidewalk. She jumps from her car and follows him down to a cellar. John seemingly entered through the exterior door without a problem, but Olivia has to shoot the lock to enter. Inside, after moving down a hallway, she discovers a room filled with files. Later, at the FBI, Broyles explains that John Scott must have been doing his own investigations. There is no sign of who he was working with. Many of the files are encrypted and could take months to translate. But John definitely knew about the Pattern, and he knew more about Fischer. Fischer is refusing to cooperate with the authorities, but John's files have allowed them to locate some other test subjects like Joseph.

Broyles also tells Dunham that they found John Scott's personal effects, and some were seemingly intended for her. Inside a box, Olivia finds photographs from John's youth and a diamond solitaire -- almost certainly an engagement -- ring. Olivia remembers what John told her: "You know I loved you... always." And then she sees the word "always" inscribed on the interior of the band.


BiCoastal Parcel; Electromagnetic ability; Federal Building; Harvard Laboratory; Herndon Building; St. Claire's Hospital; The Pattern; Worcester

Notable Quotes[]

Peter: So we're putting GPS chips on carrier pigeons to find a man who can control electricity. I have you to thank for that, don't I?
Olivia: Yeah, that's me.

Olivia: So… what is this?
Walter: This is the sort of work I was born for.
Peter: You were hoping for something more specific, maybe?

Olivia: Walter, you're not going to accidentally fry one of those pigeons?
Walter: Stranger things have happened.
Peter: That's his motto.



Observer Sighting

  • In Power Hungry, The Observer exits the doomed elevator seconds before it crashes.
  • The clue in "The Arrival" which hints to "Power Hungry" can be found on a telephone pole outside of the cafe where The Observer is eating. On the pole is a flyer which reads "UNLOCK YOUR HIDDEN POTENTIAL", which is the same ad that Joseph Meegar responded to.
  • Walter Bishop and Peter Bishop are living in room or apartment number 141; 141 is a truncation of the decimal portion of the value of pi.
  • Although credited, Blair Brown (Nina Sharp) did not appear.


  • Elevator cars do not have onboard motors. They are lifted by an external motor, a reel, counterweights, and a flexible cable; they are allowed to fall by a controlled unreeling of the cable. There is nothing on an elevator car that could "drive" it downward into the ground. It is stated by Peter Bishop that this is impossible. The elevator being "driven" into the ground could be attributed to Joseph's powers.
  • The first photograph of a 'Maglev Train Incident' at Tokyo Station is in fact a photograph of the Grayrigg Derailment of a Virgin Pendolino in the UK, the train pictured is not a maglev train and the derailment occurred in open country. There is no Maglev train in Tokyo as of 2018.
  • There are five passengers (including Meegar) on the elevator in the scene that shows it crashing. Later when Broyles walks into Walter's lab, he states that there were eight victims in the accident. The goof is continued when Olivia says the the total weight of the passengers in the elevator car is 1275 pounds. If you divide that by 8 you get an average weight of 159 pounds per passenger. But if you divide it by 5 the average weight is 255 pounds.
  • All of the city skyline shots meant to establish the location of Worcester, Massachusetts are, in fact, of Hartford, Connecticut.


  • "Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore" by REO Speedwagon